20 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Blog Assignment #2 Fall 2016

  1. The desire for fortune abroad has attracted various amounts of people from around Asia and Africa to The Gulf in the Middle East, as shown in the upper left image. However, this desire is suddenly abandoned, as many of these migrant workers are forced into poverty and slavery, to improve on nations in which they don’t even belong to. This current system allows Middle Eastern nations to thrive, prosper, and advance in the world while exploiting the work force of other nations. What seems as a new hope and fresh start from a foreigner results in tragedy and turmoil much worse than in their home country.
    One major problem with the migrant working system is the promises made to the migrant workers from the Middle Eastern countries. For example, if a migrant worker pays a recruitment agency $3,000, many are exploited with a huge undercutting salary, along with extended work hours and no time off, not to mention exponentially low salaries and physical abuse. According to the International Labor Organization, 600,000 migrant workers are classified as victims of trafficking. The middle left image of the woman cleaning the floor can summarize how promises of a diverse job are mischievously false, as undesirable occupations are granted. Along with the deceiving promises comes the horrendous working and living conditions for the migrant workers. Most of the workers are very poor but more importantly uneducated. This allows for contractors and companies to further take advantage of the migrants, resulting in them not being able to negotiate. Construction sites have negative conditions as well. Especially being in a geographical area where temperatures are extremely hot, many workers start at dawn and do not stop until told. This could be over 12 hours even. Water is surely provided, but companies use hot water to save money on cold water. Accommodations are brutal, sometimes with over ten people forced to live in one room, five bed house. As the bottom right image shows, space is densely packed in to save money and take advantage of the migrant worker system. If one worker wants to return to their home nation early, the request will be denied. Once a migrant arrives to the Middle East nation, his or her passport is immediately taken and is not returned until he or she has fulfilled the extent of his or her contract obligations. Even so, most companies hold the workers after their contract has expired to further exploit this tool.
    Migrant workers have certainly become a more prominent issue in the last 5 or 6 years, with the FIFA World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar. The majority of the soccer stadiums and venues being built for the World Cup are performed by migrant workers. With recruitment fees up to $3,000, most workers arrive already in poverty. Reports of falsity of salaries have been recorded, some as low as $220. Many Qatari companies also delay the salaries, which leads workers and their families back in their home countries homeless. Although recently Qatar has reformed some of it labor rules to improve conditions, it is not enough to ensure safety and resolve in the migrant workers. Other Middle Eastern countries still enact the cheap labor rules. If the kafala system, where workers are subjected to their employers who hold their visas, is not reformed, then this continuing process of deception and manipulation will continue in the Middle Eastern nations. As the image of the lady in the upper right explains, migrant workers are simply workers, not slaves.

  2. Migrant workers are people just like anyone else trying to make ends meet. These are individuals who leave their home country to work in another place that they believe will help them make enough money to be successful. The gulf countries is a location that is booming with migrant workers. These workers are made promises of a successful future yet taken advantage of and exploited. Instead of realizing the positive impact that migrant workers make, people only see the negatives. These workers are performing jobs such as working in factories, producing food, and provide domestic services that anyone else would never dare perform. All of these jobs are being performed, while being underpaid and under appreciated. By taking uneducated individuals and taking advantage of their poor situation countries should be worried that these individuals will begin to fight back. This opportunity should be taken to educate more people so that these jobs can be performed more efficiently and effectively. The rights given to migrant workers are non existent, and some basic human rights are even denied. It is an extremely sad situation. It is also somewhat ironic. The people who help so much with the economic growth of a nation are also the ones being exploited and taken advantage of the most. According to United Nations estimates out of the 9.2 million workers in the UAE, 7.8 million were migrant workers in 2013. Individuals from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan make up ninety percent of those workers.
    In 1971 the UAE government entered into the Kafala System which was a temporary guest worker program that was intended to allow companies to hire migrant workers. There were extreme issues with this policy, but current measures have been taken to help migrants have more rights. One of these is the inability of companies to take migrant passports as to allow migrants to transfer, and another is the wage protection measures. Even with these measures put into place, the lack of enforcement makes it far to easy for companies to continue to exploit migrant workers. The number of gaps in the Kafala system is incredible. From sexual assault, poor living conditions, restrictions on freedom, nonpayment and more, there are more complaints from migrants causing companies to either file bankruptcy or flee in order to avoid punishment from the government. One of the most notable policy changes in the Kafala system is the Wage Protection System. In addition, protection of domestic workers rights has given paid vacation, sick leave, and an attempt to prevent human trafficking through airport security.
    The top right picture says it the best. “We are workers not slaves” is such an impactful statement because it is so true. These workers are being treated like slaves in a world where the basic rights we have as humans are being taken away. For people who are doing so much and making so little it is devastating that countries are still able to manipulate and take advantage of them. I understand that there are policies being put in to place to stomp out the exploitation of migrant workers, but far more needs to be done in order to make a change in the way companies in the Gulf are treating migrant employees.


  3. Put quite simply, Persian Gulf States are very small and very rich. These recent riches are due to the discovery of oil and/or natural gas in so many of these nations. The wealth flowing in has of course sparked massive infrastructure works and construction. However, the Gulf States simply don’t have the indigenous workforce needed for all of these projects, and the many social benefits offered to citizens strongly discourages them from working such jobs as construction or domestic work. So, the logical solution is to bring in foreign labor. The vast wealth and construction boom have resulted in a situation in many Gulf States where foreign workers greatly outnumber natives.
    To fill the need for workers, Gulf States have instituted the kafala (sponsorship) system. Middlemen go to Southeast Asia and let people pay to come back to the Gulf as laborers. These individuals have no political rights once there, and certainly not citizenship. They must have the permission of their sponsor to seek new employment. Shockingly, their passports are often taken on arrival by the authorities. Unionization is forbidden, their wages are frequently withheld or stolen, and they are stuck in debt incurred by their travel. They are trapped in modern slavery (at best indentured servitude). So why do they agree to this? The Asians who come from places such as India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are impoverished and without prospects. Their home has no hope for them, so they take a chance and emigrate for the chance of work. Certainly they do not know how horribly trapped they will be in the Gulf, or the appalling conditions they will be made to work under.
    The working conditions for foreign workers in the Gulf are blatant human rights violations. These individuals are out in heat that can reach up to 122 degrees without the access to shade and water that they need. Not much is done to mitigate the danger that comes with working construction; the buildings must go up, so just get more workers. Hundreds and hundreds of workers die every year in the Gulf because of these horrid conditions. This disregard for human life is reminiscent of the construction of the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, or the American railroad. Female workers in the gulf face another sort of danger. They often end up as domestic workers on the estates of wealthy Gulf citizens. They are just as trapped, and frequently become victims of sexual assault by their employer.
    The rest of the world has become increasingly aware of these human rights violations, causing many of the Gulf States to pay lip service by enacting reform for guest workers. Most of this is either very vague or not enforced- the situation continues. The Gulf States are certainly not going to be the ones to change it. Other nations could put strong pressure on them to make reforms by using trade sanctions or not allowing them to host certain international events (such as the FIFA World Cup). Asian nations would have considerable power in banning the sending of workers to Gulf States who commit abuses. If Southeast Asia and the rest of the world persisted and would not let up the pressure on the Gulf, they would have little choice but to change the kafala system, which so clearly needs reforming.

  4. The United Arab Emirates is known to be one of the world’s richest countries because of the pre-eminent oil it produces. According to MPI, it has also become a popular place for labor migrants seeking a job and a better life for their families. These individuals come from all over the Middle East and a huge part of them are from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. But even though these workers all far away for a better life the conditions they work in are considered some of the worst. The workers are treated unfairly and at times are label and treated as slaves. Working in the gulf seems like a nightmare. They are forced to work long hours with no time off. According to the Economist, 600,000 of those workers could be classified as victims of trafficking.
    The Qatar Foundation has brought some rules for these foreign workers such as, “contractors dealing with the foundation must pay for the worker’s ticket to the country, provide three weeks off.” And other countries have also started to create rules for there foreign workers as well. Many human rights advocators believe the Qatar Foundation is a “model that could spark regional change.” However, many of them know that even though these rules are put into place to protect these individuals many of them do not really know if they will actually be carried out. For example, In the UAE, passports are still taken away from migrant works when they arrive to the country, which not allowed because a court order was issued against this kind of act.
    The Economists believe this cruelty will never improve unless the kafala system is improved, “whereby workers are beholden to the employers who sponsored their visas.” This protects workers from oversea competition. The really interesting and sad thing about working for the UAE is that they cannot leave their jobs for two years, and it’s very difficult for them to find another job or even leave the country before that time because there employers basically own them. And that is another reason why these employers take away their passports it’s a form of control, which can be taken advantage of in many cruel ways. These workers are paid very low and some of them aren’t paid at all.
    Most of these foreign workers are men, women do work in these areas as well, but there aren’t as many. Women are put in a lot of risk in these areas because of human trafficking and sexual assault. Many women are have been taken advantage of because of their states as an immigrant. And if we really look at this situation this happens all over the world, even in the U.S. Women have been objectified for centuries, which is sad and disturbing. The reason why these women in these labor jobs might not say anything is because of fear. They want the same thing that every single person wants freedom and a good stable job in order to take care of their family. The kafala system really needs to change for these poor individuals, who are being treated so badly.


  5. The Persian Gulf States are some of the richest states in the world considering the amount of oil and gas they collect. With all of this money from the exportation of the plentiful resources, there are building projects, and expansion projects that need a lot of people to complete. To fulfill this need for workers they take foreign people who are seeking decent paying jobs and better living, and turn them into slaves to help get work done. The top right picture of the mask saying “we are workers not slaves” is accurate in showing that these migrants came to be workers and to be treated like workers, not like slaves with no wages or rights. This allows the Middle East to grow and prosper while cutting into good capable workers from nearby countries.
    The way the Middle East fills their need for workers is through a sponsorship system (Kafala). In a nutshell the Middle East sends middlemen to nearby countries, particularly Southeast Asia, where they promote to take people back to the Gulf countries to work. Once the laborers arrive they are under the full control of their sponsor and their passports are stripped and not returned unless the sponsor allows, and if they want new employment, it must be approved by the sponsor. As a result, many of the laborers are mistreated and have terrible or even no wages. Most of the time the laborers are stuck because they had a debt from the travel to get there. The working conditions are terrible with temperatures soaring during the day thanks to being right along the equator. Women can get stuck in sexual assault by their employers. The workers are often forced into terrible living conditions such as the one showed in the image. An example of some of what kind of work these emigrants have to is shown with the Qatar 2022 world cup setup. A BBC source has it that close to 1200 migrant workers have died in Qatar since announcing that it would be hosting the world cup in 2022. The builders are having to build skyscrapers, an airport, a subway system, and many roads, among lots of other things.
    People from around the globe have begun to notice what has been happening and demanding that the conditions of these workers be improved. The Gulf States act like they are trying to make changes when really they are going to leave it how it is because of the huge profits coming from it. The countries outside of the middle east are going to have to take control of the situation and stop this from continuing. The gulf will eventually have no choice except to do away with the Kafala system or reform it to where the standards and rules are much better and more reliable compared to where they are at now. In particular, if Qatar keeps doing what they are doing to these emigrants then I would not be surprised to see FIFA step in and strip Qatar of its world cup bid entirely.
    -Will Bartels

  6. In many parts of the world living conditions are bad and or worsening. People’s jobs don’t provide enough income to support their family or they’re run out of their home by conflict. They are struggling to survive, barely getting by each day. The solution many come to is to leave the country and take one of the high paying jobs advertised in the Gulf. However, they soon find out that what waits for them isn’t a new life of comfort and reward, but one of being overworked, under-compensated, and under-valued. Countries like the United States have many laws regulating the workforce, but the smaller countries like the Gulf States do not. What they have, thanks to new oil fields, are masses of wealth and many job opportunities. This seems great until you see that they do not have enough native population to fill their increasing number of jobs. The simple solution they come to is to import cheap labor. Many other countries are overflowing with people struggling to find jobs and wealth, so a flashy advertisement portraying wealth and status should be more than enough to bring them in in truckloads. This tactic has worked very well, inviting foreigners to pay to migrate for the chance at a new job and better life has brought immigrants in droves. Once in their new “home”, instead of the riches they were promised, they are met with unfair working conditions and practically no rights to protect them.
    There are currently over 15 million migrant workers in the Gulf region, all of whom share a similar story. They were given hope, then watched it fall away as they arrived and saw what really awaited them. Passports confiscated, basic human rights denied, terrible work hours and conditions, compensation often stolen or even withheld. The undervalued and under compensated migrant workers are quickly becoming the backbone of Gulf states. They provide valuable services through their labor and furnish an often invisible subsidy to the national economies that receive them. Working in factories, producing food, providing domestic service, and staffing in hospitals, they contribute to much of their host countries basic needs. One would imagine that such an obviously beneficial work force would be greatly appreciated and treated accordingly, but that is not the case. However, the lack of respect and rights given to migrant workers in the Gulf regions has reached beyond their borders.
    After watching many Gulf states take advantage of cheap labor, the international community is demanding action. Fighting for equal rights, they argue that if a worker is mistreated in one country, they should always be able to work for another country with a better reputation. Many of the more prominent countries are beginning to press all labor-receiving countries to ensure equal compensation to that of citizens. Pushing past the workforce, other countries are pushing for Gulf states to allow greater rights in regards to education and health care. Denying basic human rights to immigrant workers when there is more than enough wealth to compensate all is not only shameful, but weakens the moral construction of society as well.

    • Isabella Victor. Middle East and North Africa; Guest workers in the Gulf

      A popular new movement is being recognized as the work force in Middle eastern countries are turning primarily Asian. The need for these workers would not be available if it was not for the increasing economy of the Arab countries. This incline in economic stability started in the 70’s due to the rise in oil prices. Both skilled and unskilled workers are needed to help the fast pace growth of the countries succeed.

      A country whose population is almost doubled by guest workers, is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These migrants come mainly from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan looking for better employment opportunities. The United Arab Emirates wealth comes from the oil business and showers the whole country in economic prosperity. It is a country who seeks unskilled laborers to fill the jobs that citizens do not want to subject to. A wealthy country also means a growing economy will job opportunities continuously open up.

      Qatar is equally known as a large acceptor of guest workers as the United Arab Emirates is, but unfortunately both are known for the lack of rights these migrants receive. These countries, built on the wealth from oil, have recently been making their way onto the world stage. The plan to build expensive, world class – hotels, buildings, museums, and universities in the future have put these countries on the radar. These countries also plan to host major world events in the upcoming years such as Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Despite all the positive attributes these countries have to offer, they are also not treating the immigrant workers well that are necessary for these projects. Unfair pay, the confiscation of passports, the inability to leave a job for 2 years, no access to bathrooms or clean water, and long work days are just to name a few of the problems guest workers face. Workers are often told they will be paid a significant amount higher than what the in reality receive but have to accept it without complaint because most likely family back home depends on it. Guest workers also live and commute to work together. However, conditions for both of these are well below acceptable. Workers wait two plus hours for the company bus to pick them up after sleeping in crammed corners where 10 or more sleep in one small room together. Good hygiene is also hard to achieve as the toilets are outside and clean water is not accessible.

      Not only do immigrants travel from Asia to the Gulf Region, but people of other Middle Eastern and North African leave their homes in hope of finding better jobs in thriving oil countries. Egypt, Yemen, Turkey, Sudan, Jordan, and Algeria are some but not all of the countries that have large numbers of workers who travel to Libya and the Gulf Region. They also receive the same mal-treatment but cannot quit due to the responsibility they have to support family members in other countries. The wealthy countries large need for workers and citizens of poor middle eastern countries need to provide for their family seemingly fit to hand to hand, but nothing is that simple. Guest worker’s rights are comparable to a slaves and the fight to change that is hopeful.

      Click to access F-1_Choucri_Asians_Arab_World_Labor_Migration_Public_Policy.pdf


  7. Guest workers in the gulf has become a huge trend. Because there is so much work for people, many people decide to leave their home country to come make money. People can find jobs in construction, mining, oil pumping, and so much more. Even though this sounds like a great thing for everyone, many problems are created.

    The first problem is shown in the countries that these workers are leaving. There are nearly 15 million migrants working in the gulf region. That means a lot of countries have lost thousands of employees. Without a work force, nothing will get done in these countries. However, the wages do go up because the demand for work is high and the supply for work is low.

    The countries receiving the migrants also have problems arise, even though they are getting work done. Since there are so many workers, the amount they will be payed drops due to a low demand of labor. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the per capita income fell from nineteen thousand dollars in 1980 to seven thousand dollars in 1995. This is below the World Bank’s line for rich countries, which is $7,620 of annual salary. This low salary results in poor working conditions, as shown in some of the pictures on blog.

    Another problem that these countries begin to see is high unemployment rates. Saudi Arabia has a population of 27.3 million people. Thirty percent of these people are immigrants. This results in lots of unemployment. In 2011, Saudi Arabia had an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent. One group of people being mainly affected by this is women. They have an unemployment rate of about 35 percent, while the men’s is 7.4 percent. A lot of the jobs are manual labor jobs, so the employer wants bigger and stronger people. This results in men getting the job. This can be shown by the group of construction workers in the picture on the blog.

    Qatar is another country that has a lot of guest workers, nearly 1.8 million. This far exceeds the number of native citizens, about three hundred thousand. Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, so it has been trying to get a lot of work done. It uses a sponsorship system to get the workers. This is when a sponsor pays for the workers to travel to Qatar. Now that the worker owes him, the worker pays off the debt by working long hours in hot temperatures that can go as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit. This is like the treatment of a slave, and as shown by the picture on the blog, many workers have spoken up about not being treated as slaves. This has resulted in many deaths of migrant workers in Qatar. One thousand of these workers have died since 2012, and according to the International Trade Union Confederation, about four thousand could die before the world cup.

    Unemployment, low wages, and deaths are all obviously huge problems. Guest workers in the Persian Gulf region are not being taken care of. There have started to be talks of trying to help them or limiting how many migrant workers there can be in an area, but nothing significant yet. This system seemed like it would get a lot done for the countries and get the workers payed, but the main outcome has been complete disaster.


    By: Jackson Allen

  8. Migrant workers have always been particularly susceptible to ill-treatment and exploitation from the financial elites whose interests their work supports. The fight for equal rights, fair wages, and proper housing and working conditions continues, especially in the Gulf. Not supported by unions and left bereft by their home countries, there is a massive number of individuals being exploited daily as they provide cheap and easy labor for a number of domestic jobs or construction projects, like high-end airports or FIFA World Cup arena.

    As so poignantly pointed out in the top right image, they are “workers not slaves.” Yet as you can see in the image below that, these workers are often held in tight cramped quarters, hauled by bus to their jobs where they work extremely long hours, only to return to their work camps exhausted and over-crowded. The lack of oversight or organization allows little accountability from those who employ these workers, and the nature of the workers’ arrival makes them even more vulnerable. Often, they take out loans to pay the entrance fee for an organization to bring them to the new country and find them a job – theoretically, once they’ve arrived and earned enough wages, they can pay back the loan and begin making their own profit. But in such vulnerable positions to those around them, migrant workers often find themselves bonded into labor in countries they’re unfamiliar with, with no identification, allies, or means of escape.

    Women face particular hardship as migrant workers, especially In the Gulf’s patriarchal societies often dominated by conservative religious beliefs. They, like all migrant workers, experience coercion, abuse, and exploitation which leaves them trapped in slave-like conditions. They’re often denied their full salaries, food, and living conditions; forced to work incredibly long hours and find that their passports have been confiscated to prevent escape.

    According to Harvard University, 90 percent of the labor force in the UAE is made of migrants – people who are legally bound to whomever sponsors them and with little wage or individual protection. Coalitions and Human Rights groups have begun to increase efforts at change and transparency, but in the Gulf, mandating cooperation is not easy – many of these petro-monarchies and the affluent corporations which rely on the migrant labor force refuse to concede or adapt.

    However, some governments, like Pakistan’s, have announced initiatives which they claim will promote safe and decent employment opportunities for migrant workers. Negotiations amongst governments are essential for results, especially in these tightly controlled regimes and monarchies. They possess a heavy influence which can be used to ensure that the workers are being treated fairly. These administrations and large corporations must no longer remain silent, and must give the migrants the voice they currently do not have.





  9. The Guests of the Gulf
    People in the quest of having a better lifestyle for themselves and their love ones migrate to major cities or other countries. Major cities or countries considered wealthy and developed, looking for better job opportunities and high wages. This is why for decade people internally migrate from the rural to urban areas or externally from third world countries to first ones. The two most noticeable cases in the world are the Mexicans migrating to The United States of America, and the Philippines, Nepalese and Indians traveling to the Gulf Countries. For all these emigrants the final goal is the same to work hard and save money to send that money back to their relatives, so they can have money to buy food, and send the kids to school. In this blog I will focus my comments in the workers of the Gulf. In counties like Emirates United Arab and Qatar, the Indian, Nepalese and Philippines workers are facing horrible living conditions and treatments, so for many they are considered the modern slaves. They face so much abuse form their employers that some of them have died exhausted of working long hours and in high and low temperatures. Let me go deeper in the topic and explain with more details the abuses faced by these foreign workers.
    Modern slavery is a real thing in the Gulf especially in countries like Emirates United Arab and Qatar. Many complaints from the workers especially foreign workers who are brought with false promises of decent living conditions and good salaries are being showed recently by reporters of the Nation magazine and the Guardian newspaper. The workers leave behind their family with the promises of better opportunities, but they come to the reality as soon as they get to these gulf countries. In the arrival to these countries their passports are confiscated, and they are made to sign a contract with a lower salary as the promised one back at home. And this is just the beginning. These emigrant laborers are cramped in small buildings with poor living conditions. They are up to 12 men living in a small room. All of this is without mentioning the unhygienic bathrooms in which they have to bathe and the small kitchen with not utensils where they cook their food.
    Since FIFA selected Qatar to be the host of the 2022 world cup, they have hired approximately 1.8 million foreign workers, who overpasses the 300,000 native citizens, this workers, are exposed to dangerous situations, receive small amount of days of vacation. In addition, these workers have the option to ask for a loan which of course is a good thing. However, these loans are actually permanent debt because the interest is 60%. These loans are supposed to be paid by working extra time. To mention that most of these countries have extremely hot temperatures. Thus, to work outside for long hours is not a healthy thing, with Temperatures that go up to 50 Celsius or 122 Fahrenheit and due to this extremely climate many workers die in the job place. There is an estimation that 700 Indians workers have died in Qatar since the started with preparation to the 2022 world cup.
    It seems that nobody can stop these rich gulf counties from doing these abuses to their foreign workers, but hopefully with the videos released from these reporters international entities will take close look and find solution to stop these abuses.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s